Monday, December 13, 2010

Wood You Keep Me Warm


I did a little rearranging over the weekend.  I have all my firewood piled up outside in the carport and with these below freezing temperatures we have been having already this year, I thought it would make more sense to have my wood inside instead.  I've thought about doing this for a while, but wasn't sure it would look too great with a pile of wood in my living room.  Keeping warm is higher on my list, so in came the wood!


I cut a plastic garbage bag to put under it to catch all the debris.



I'm just keeping it like this for the winter, then I will put my sofa table back again.
Oh and before you get scared that some bugs may have snuck in with the logs, the freezing temps lately have most likely kept a lot of the bugs away. I hope. My mom was afraid I would bring a snake in! 


Domino Magazine


I have actually seen this a lot in magazines and websites where there is wood piled up near a fireplace.  Here's a photo I stumbled upon recently that I thought looked nice with the wood.


For those that have non-working fireplaces, decorating the inside of the fireplace with logs is also an option.  I think this look is really creative.

Photos from Apartment Therapy & Tony Hutchinson


Stay warm!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Outliers - Book Review




This was a really interesting book.  I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but my favorite chapter was the one about how children in East Asia excel at math compared to the children in the United States.  It makes so much sense,  you wonder why people don't realize it. I think we should change the names of our number system here in America! lol  Another reason I liked this chapter is because I could relate to it.  When I was in Thailand, I learned the language and learned the numbers in Thai. Their number system is very easy to learn and makes much more sense the way they say their numbers in Thai as opposed to the way we say numbers in English.  Anyway, I was just really amazed by this chapter if you can't tell.

There are a lot of other interesting topics in the book like, how some people become great soccer players, why so many Korean airlines use to crash, why only a handful of people make it big like Bill Gates, etc.

I definitely recommend this book.  I would also love to read more writings by Malcolm Gladwell.

_______


The next book on my list is Blue Like Jazz.  It's a book I got when I was in Atlanta and just never got around to reading it.  It's about a man who use to be on fire for the Lord, but fell away from God and then came back.  I think this would be the perfect book for me to read right now.


Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts On Christian Spirituality




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Set This House in Order - Book Review


I loved this book!  I had said before that I like a book that makes me think as I read it, a book that gives me something to try to figure out.  Well this book fit that criteria.  The book is about Andy Gage, who has multiple personalities living in his head.  Matt Ruff did an amazing job to take you into the head of someone with this type of disorder.  After a while, you actually started to feel like it's normal to have multiple personalities inside one person, that is how great a job the author did.  The book even has little drawings and diagrams in it so you can visually see what the author is talking about.  I'm a visual person so I loved this.  Andy has a little house he built inside his head that houses all the personalities so there isn't chaos, the book shows how he came about building this house for his personalities and how each room works and functions.

The story is anything but predictable.  You come to so many twists and turns you have no idea what's going to happen next. I was kept on the edge of my seat up until the very last page.  Oh and another great thing about this book, he doesn't leave you hanging at all at the end.  He neatly goes in and gives you a run down of everything that happens with each character and wraps it up nicely.  I rarely read books that do this, which can leave me with a frustrated feeling.   I would love to read more books like this, so if anyone has read this and knows of other books like this, please let me know.  I don't want to say too much about it because it seems like if I say anything, it will give too much away.

Although I highly recommend this book, I am going to give a warning.  There is one personality in the book named Maledicta.  This personality cusses like a sailor and drops the F bomb in every sentence.  I just thought I would throw that out there in case this might be a deciding factor if you read the book or not.  Although I hate books that have cursing like that, I actually do see why the author used it in this particular case. The only time it's used is with this particular character.

I don't have a  new book set up to read yet, I am still trying to figure out what to read next.  I'll look through some of the ones that people commented on in my last book post and see if any of those jump out at me.  I usually try to go to Amazon.com and read the first few pages of the books first. I can usually tell just by that if I'm going to like a book or not.

I give this book 2 thumbs up!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Garden Happy


My garden is still growing from when I planted it back in spring. There are a lot of weeds in it, but I'm still getting a lot of peppers. I won't need to buy peppers for another 5 years after all these peppers I got!

There are still a lot of herbs growing in the garden too. Some chives, parsley, dill and a ton of Tha basil.

Here's all the Thai basil in my garden. Crazy!

I'm going to freeze a bunch of it and maybe make some pesto and freeze that, too.

I have enough frozen peppers to last for years. LOL

Some of my banana peppers I put in vinegar.


Habanero's I picked.


Canned Habenero peppers.


To can the Habenero peppers so the cans would seal, I boiled vinegar and poured over them in the can.  They didn't seal right away, but that night while I was laying in bed, I heard the cans popping as they sealed.

Now that I had my first garden, I should be ready next year and know what to plant and what not to plant.  I'm going to try to grow my tomatoes in pots next year since they didn't do too well in my garden.  I'll grow more cucumbers next year, too.

Having this garden was one of my favorite things about getting my new house.  I don't think I could ever go back to apartment life now.  :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tobacco Basket is Up



I love it!  I'm so glad I got this, it may be one of my favorite home decor purchases!   I took my hydrangeas from the fireplace and just put them on the table for now.  I'll try to find something else to put here later.  I had candles burning in my fireplace last night...  I wanted some fireplace ambiance and it isn't quite cold enough for a fire yet.

I put a big screw in the wall and tied some rope around part of the basket at the top and just hung the rope on the screw.  It seems sturdy enough that it should hold.


I called Lowe's today to try to order a new front door for the living room, but the guy didn't know how to find the door I was looking for. Guess I'll have to run down there tonight or some other time and try to talk to someone in person to get things done. The door will be glass so it will  let more light in, I don't like how dark my living room feels when the door is closed, I usually keep it open so I can get light from my storm door.

I don't like my mantle decor anymore, I need to change that out.  I never did switch it to fall decor.  I don't even have any fall decor to decorate it with. I didn't move in until November, so fall was pretty much over by the time I got in.  If you look real close at the picture, you can see where I accidentally left the screw driver and tape measure on the left side of the mantle from where I was putting up the basket.  oops

Monday, October 4, 2010

Update on Dad




Update On My Dad
Speaking of my dad, he's doing great!  I've been spending most of my time over at my parents home while he's recovering.  This weekend he actually went out on the farm and picked grapes with me.  He was showing me the step by step method how to make wine, so I made a couple of 5 gallon barrels for him this weekend.  I took pics of the process, so I'll post that once the wine is finished, which will be months from now, but I can't wait to see how they turned out since I actually did these myself.   He's not fully recovered, but he sure is glad to be home and not stuck in that hospital anymore.  The doctors said it would take 6 weeks for recovery, 3 months for it to heal, and a year for him to feel 100% like himself again.  He's really doing great though and I'll post updates on him, too.  Thank you all for your encouragement and prayers.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Dad

Just wanted to let you know my dad had an operation last week and he's doing really great! He had a valve repaired in his heart. The doctors told him he may have to have it replaced, but during surgery they were able to repair his so now he won't need the valve replacement. He's very happy about that. The doctor thinks this is something he was born with, but now since the surgery, his heart should be stronger than ever.
Please pray for his continued healing from the surgery as he's a little sore from it.




This is one of my favorite pics of my dad and me. My mom took this pic of us when I lived by the beach in Florida.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time Out


I'm sorry, I won't be posting  much this week,
due to a personal family matter.





Monday, September 20, 2010

The Glass Castle Review

The Glass Castle is an easy read and one of those books that you must finish because you can't wait to find out how it all pans out.  It's a true story, which makes your jaw drop almost the whole time you're reading it.

I said I would give you my opinion on it when I was finished reading it, so if you haven't read the book yet and don't want the ending spoiled, I wouldn't read any farther than this!

My heart broke as I read this book, it was so hard to believe that children can be so neglected by their parents. I have a very hard time hearing or reading anything about child neglect and when I got half way through the book, I wasn't sure if I could read anymore.  I actually had to force myself to continue reading because I really wanted to see how all the children turned out. I knew Jeanette obviously turned out well since she was the author.

The whole time I was reading the book, all I could think of was how the parents were a cancer that would infect anything or anyone they came in contact with.  The children had to raise the parents because the parents weren't responsible enough to raise their own kids.  I know Jeanette and her siblings loved their parents dearly, but I had a hard time finding any sympathy or pity for them at all.  They turned everywhere they lived into a dump.  The children had 2 choices, they could fight in any way they knew how to pull themselves out of that dump or they could sink away into it with their parents never to escape.  I was so delighted to read that the 3 oldest children chose to swim instead of sink.  On an upside I did learn that some of my whining about things in life is so silly compared to the hardships these young children endured.  I've learned to look at things a little different. Especially food, the way they would scrape to get by like having a stick of butter being their only meal at times. Let's not talk about the lard sandwiches.

I guess you could say this book really touched me and it's a book that I will continue thinking about days and weeks to come, most likely even years.  The message and words are something I just can't shake off. You know that feeling? It just sort of stays with you.  It's a good thing, too.  My review may sound negative, but I'm glad I read the book and don't regret it.  I would recommend this book for sure. There were some very funny parts where I was laughing hysterically.  I've never had a book bring that kind of laughter out of me. 

I'll probably not read anymore of Jeannettes books any time soon, I think I need something a little more light hearted to read next.  I'll definitely read more of her books in the future though. I have one of her books called Half Broke Horses that I'll read later. 

If you've read The Glass Castle, I would love to hear more details of what you thought of it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mexican Black Bean Salad Tostada


MEXICAN BLACK BEAN SALAD TOSTADA
(Vegetarian)

1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp red onions minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 medium jicama, peeled and diced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup frozen corn kernals, sweet, rinsed under hot water to defrost
1/4 cup avocado, diced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 Tbsp canned green chili peppers, diced
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, from 1 large lime
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
4 small corn tortillas

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients, except tortillas, in a large bowl, mix to combine.
Toast tortillas and top each with 3/4 cup of salad; serve. Yields 1 tostada per serving.
Recipe can be doubled for larger gatherings.

_______________________


This is a Weight Watchers recipe I found on their site. Lou and her husband have been doing the Weight Watchers diet and had really great results with it, so I thought I would pick out a WW recipe this week for her.
The link to the recipe is here.  Mexican Black Bean Salad Tostada



Ok so I forgot to get avocado! I was so upset because avocados are one of my favorite foods.  I also looked high and low for a jicama, but there were none to be found in this little town.  Lou couldn't find any jicamas either.  I've never had one,  nor do I know what they taste like.  Hopefully I'm not missing too much?

I used fresh corn from the farmers market instead of frozen corn.

I also made some of my own salsa to put on the tostada.  I just love experimenting with salsas and this one turned out nice. I added habanero instead of jalapeƱo.
Here is the recipe for the green salsa.  Tomatilla Salsa Verde Recipe

The tostada recipe was very good, I love all Mexican food though.  This sort of seemed like bean salad and just putting it on a tostada, which isn't bad, but you could probably easily eat this like salsa and use chips instead.

This is my Tuesday night dinner across the miles with Lou, if you're wondering about what I'm talking about. Every Tuesday evening my friend Lou (in FL) and I (in NC) make the same meal. I'm going to be at the farm canning grape juice tonight, so I made my dinner last night instead.  You can click on the recipes link on the right side of my blog to see all the other Tuesday recipes we've done.

Here is how Lou's dinner turned out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bathroom Wallpapered!

Here it finally is.  I didn't think this project was ever going to get done.  I will firmly say that I do NOT like to wallpaper.  I was so bad at it. My mom came over and helped me do a little at first, but I tried to do the rest by myself and I made sooo many mistakes.  I would accidentally cut it wrong or something would go wrong.  After all of that, it turned out looking great and I am glad I wallpapered it instead of painting it.  I tried so many paint colors and  nothing looked right in this bathroom against this odd colored beige tile.

(This is the only bathroom in the house by the way.  I have a tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath home.)

The fruits of my labor...




BEFORE



AFTER




BEFORE



AFTER



BEFORE



AFTER



BEFORE

Love my cast iron bathtub.

AFTER


It's not really a complete before and after bathroom makeover.  I still have a few more things I would like to do before it's finally finished, but I think I'm going to wait and do those projects next year.  I am on the hunt for a white roman shade to replace the plastic blinds right now though.  I ordered some from Ebay and had to return them because they got all bent up during shipping. They were JC Penney brand and I didn't like them. They didn't hang right.

I would eventually like to:

  • Get bamboo floors to replace the old vinyl.
  • Get a marble countertop to replace the laminate counters.
  • Re-tile the  bottom of the shower floor.


The wallpaper I got was by Kathy Ireland Home.  The print is called Garden Silhouette, the item ID is NL58196. I got the first roll from Sherwin Williams, then had to order 2 additional rolls from Total Wallcovering.
It's environmentally friendly, prepasted, breathable, washable and fully removable.

I would just like to say, I wouldn't have purchased this wallpaper had I known how much waste there was going to be. I had to cut off so much in order to get the next row to line up as I was putting each sheet up.  As you can see, there is only half of a wall to do in a tiny bathroom. It took 3 double rolls! Now I know why people don't wallpaper anymore. lol  I am just so glad that project is over.  I'm surprised I didn't wallpaper myself to the wall!

Some of the wasted wallpaper that didn't get used.


I love how it turned out.  I like the organic feel and look it gives the bathroom.  I wasn't sure what to do with such a dated room.  When anyone would walk into my bathroom, I would say, welcome to 1963.  I mean, how do you update something like this? lol  I changed out the light fixture over the mirror and I replaced the faucet for the sink. Remember my bathroom flood?

Slowly but surely each room is starting to fall into place.  I can't wait to get my bedroom, I mean the *guest* bedroom finished now!  I have so many fun ideas for it!  I'll post pics of what I have been doing in there next, so come back.  :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Imam Bayildi Recipe

---

The title of this traditional Turkish recipe means "the imam fainted," referring to a holy man who passed out with pleasure when presented with this dish, perhaps because of the wonderful aromas.




Imam Bayildi
2 eggplants 10 1/2 oz each
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions chopped
2 large garlic cloves crushed
2x 14oz cans chopped tomatoes
3 Tbsp raisins
3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
lemon rind finely grated
2 Tbsp lemon  juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper







Step one: Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a knife scoop out the flesh leaving about 1/4 inch shell.

Step two: Chop the eggplant flesh and place in a colander,sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 30 min. Rinse and pat dry

Step three: Heat olive oil in large skillet, add onions and fry, stirring until softened, add garlic and stirring for about 2 minutes.




Step four: Add tomatoes, eggplant, raisins, parsley, lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring until mixture has thickened.

Step five: Spoon the mixture into the eggplant shells, mounding it up slightly. Place the filled shells in an ovenproof dish.

Step six: Cover the dish with foil, roast in a preheated over at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Serve hot


________________



The recipe turned out great. This is definitely not something to make if you're in a rush or want something quick. This meal took about 2 hours to complete.  This is really an amazing Turkish dish.  I had no idea it would take so long to make, I saw the bake for 45 minutes, but didn't realize how long it took to prep for it.  Sorry Lou!  Lou is my friend that I make a Tuesday night meal with across the miles. She lives in FL and I live in NC.  



Here is how Lou's turned out.



As I was waiting for the meal to bake, there was a little left in the pot that I didn't use in the  eggplants.  I rarely test taste my food as I'm cooking it, I don't know why.  So I tasted it and all I tasted was cinnamon and thought, OH NO!!  Lou  is going to KILL me!  I thought, she hasn't called me back, maybe she's mad and never speaking to me again. LOL  So I called her and she had just finished eating hers.  She assured me the final outcome was delish.  She was right, when it was finished baking all the flavors had run together and had such a neat smell and taste.  Maybe that is why I don't test taste my food while cooking.  :)


I waited so long for this meal,
 I had me a little spinach salad before hand.




I got the recipe from this cookbook.
What's Cooking Mediterranean




_______________


My dad canned some grape juice.
It looks different than what you buy in the stores,
 but it tasted really great.




Here is his wine fermenting, it stays in this bottle for a month or two.




Sorry if this posts layout is all messed up, blogger is having some major technical difficulties, I will try to fix it later.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Making Homemade Wine



As you know from my previous posts, my parents live on a huge farm in the mountains of NC.  They grow their own food, can their own food, my dad makes his own bread, and something I like that he does is make his own wine.

I thought I would take you through a few of the steps as he makes the wine.  I wasn't able to catch every step because it takes months to make it.  There is a lot of fermenting involved.  The photo to the left is some of the wine he's bottled.

There are a variety of different kinds, but I know muscadine is one of the main ones he bottles.  I love muscadine grapes, they are my favorite!





Here are his grape vines, I had posted this in an earlier post, but just in case you missed it!  He has grape vines scattered around throughout his property, which is close to around 100 acres.  Each year they just keep getting bigger and grow out farther.  I think they're so beautiful. I love vinyards.

These aren't exact step by step instructions on making wine, just an overview, because the task is a little involved.  You would need to speak to someone who knows a lot about this if you wanted to get started making your own wine.



1.  First off you pick the clusters of grapes from the vine. Then you sit and pull each grape off the clusters.




2.  Then you wash the grapes.



3.  Then Mash up the grapes and put them in a big bucket.  After the grapes and grape juice are in it, you add some water and sugar. Then you put some yeast in it.  Put a cloth on top of it so the bugs can't get in and let it sit for a week to ferment.


4.  He hasn't got to this step yet for this batch, but you then strain all the pulp and such out and pour it into this big bottle.  You let it sit for another month or so.  Take it and strain it again to get the very last bits of pulp that may be remaining and continue to let it sit for another month or so.


5.  Pour it into wine bottles and seal it with a cork!  Tada!   Here's some of the wine he's bottled already.  He would have more, but we like to drink it and give it away to people.




This year we're going to do some grape juice without making it into wine.  I'm just going to can it and put it in Mason jars.  So delicious!   Hope you enjoyed the little wine making tour.

I'm out at my folks farm for the next week or so, that's why I haven't been able to work on any projects around my house lately.  My dishwasher and freezer are being delivered today!  I have someone at my house there waiting so they can deliver it.  I'll get pics of that as soon as it's all hooked up. I did decide on a color for my kitchen cabinets.  I'm going with Olympic White Cream.  I was having a hard time finding something that didn't clash with my yellow walls in the kitchen.  The creamy white is a tad lighter than the yellow so I think it will work.  I painted a swatch from a sample can onto the cabinet and really like it.  We'll see!  I know the plan was to start painting this past Monday, but I haven't been home long enough to get started on it.  Maybe I'll start this weekend.  That's all for now  :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Salad Bar Pad Thai






Salad Bar Pad Thai

1/4 lb rice sticks or thin spaghetti
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbs fish sauce (can substitute with soy sauce)
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp peanut oil
8 scallions, slice
1 garlic clove chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked snow peas, halved
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
3 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped basil
3 Tlbs unsalted dry-roasted peanuts chopped

Step one:Place rice sticks in a large bowl; add enough warm water to cover and let soak until softened, about 10 min. OR prepare thin spaghetti according to package.

Step two: in a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and crushed red pepper

Step Three: In a large wok, heat oil. Saute the scallions and garlic until softened, about 3 min. Add the rice sticks and toss to coat. Stir in the vinegar mixture and cook , tossing gently until heated through about 2 min. add the snow peas, tomato, and bean sprouts, cook tossing gently for 1 min. 
Sprinkle with eggs, cilantro, mint, basil and peanuts before serving. 

_____________________________


This recipe was from my friend Lou.  It was her turn to pick the recipe for our Tuesday night dinner.  She knows I love Thai food  :)  She got the recipe from her Weight Watchers Cookbook.  (6 WW points)

The dinner turned out great! It's not the original Pad Thai, it's sort of a salad bar version of it.  
If you're not use to the strong taste of fish sauce, I suggest you substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce or use half soy sauce and half fish sauce.  





A couple of things I did was add double the amount of red crushed pepper that the recipe called for, plus I added some cayenne peppers from my garden.  I like it hot!
I forgot to buy peanuts!!!  Peanuts add that final touch, I'm so mad at myself for not having them.  I'm not a huge peanut fan, but just a little sprinkled on top would have been nice.  I used Sugar in the Raw instead of regular sugar.  I usually substitute sugar with honey, but this time I think the honey wouldn't have given it that special flavor it needs.




If you noticed, there's a spoon in the plate of the final Pad Thai dish in the first photo.  I ate the dish with a spoon because they use spoons in Thailand to eat with, not forks.  The smells and everything just brought back so many memories of Thailand as I ate it.  Good times.

I will say one thing, when I make this in the future, I'm going to leave the boiled eggs out. I didn't really like the way they tasted in it.  I need some thai peppers, too. Cayennes are nowhere near as hot as the little Thai peppers they use.

In Thailand, instead of having salt and pepper on the table like we do here in America, they have a little caddy of 4 different condiments.  Crushed peanuts, sugar, hot vinegar, and crushed Thai red peppers.  I think I'm going to put one of these together so when I have my Thai dishes, I can just adjust the flavors as needed.  They are on every table of every restaurant in Thailand, yet, I've never seen them in the Thai restaurants here in America for some reason. I've always wondered about that.

Thai Condiments.


Thank you Lou for picking this recipe, I really enjoyed it.  It's my turn to pick for next week, so I will get to work on finding something and not waiting until the last minute this time! :-D



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Painted White Barn


I'm over at the farm today, will be coming over here for the next couple of weeks.  I just wanted to show some before and afters that my dad has been up to.  I have always loved this old barn.  He decided to paint it white this past weekend.  What a difference it looks painted white.


Can you see the cows in there?  Well let me take you around back for a better look.







Here's how the barn looked before he painted it, this was taken quite a while back.


I also had taken some pics of it in black and white and I have this framed on the wall in my living room.



Here's his shed he had built. There use to be an old house here that he tore down and built over it.  That is the original well that's next to it, I'm so glad he left that there.


Notice he painted the shed all white, too.  Now do you see where I get it from?  It's the genes that make me paint everything white! :-D

Here are the grapevines back behind the shed.


They keep getting bigger each year, he's going to have a nice vineyard soon!



He makes wine with the grapes.  I need to take pics of him making it, it's really neat.  He started making some this weekend, but I missed getting pictures of it. Maybe the next batch he makes I can sneak over and get some pics of it.  He's still letting the grapes ferment right now so I don't think he's ready to start anymore yet.
I'm also trying to get him to can me some grape juice so I can have to drink.  How yum would that be?!



My parents home.  

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